P.J. JONES, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: THIS WEEKEND LOOKS LIKE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU... "Definitely. This is a really good opportunity - to come here, run for A.J. [Foyt] and get back in a Winston Cup car. Last weekend at the ...
P.J. JONES, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
THIS WEEKEND LOOKS LIKE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU...
"Definitely. This is a really good opportunity - to come here, run for A.J. [Foyt] and get back in a Winston Cup car. Last weekend at the Brickyard was a last minute effort (team did not qualify). I wasn't really prepared for it and I don't think the team was really prepared to run two cars. But this weekend we came prepared and we're running good. Yesterday, we qualified 14th, which was a pretty good effort. I left some on the table just for insurance, to make sure that we got a good starting spot for Sunday. This morning we were good - like sixth quick - so, we're right there.
"Tomorrow, I think we can be a factor. We need a little luck and need to stay out of trouble, but maybe we can come away with a real strong finish."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE GOT AN ADVANTAGE OVER SOME OF THE WINSTON CUP REGULARS WHEN YOU COME TO A ROAD COURSE?
"I'm 'oval,' 'road course' - a little bit of everything. I just have more experience on a road course than most of these guys do. Now, that I have more stock car background, being in the Busch Series and running Winston Cup off and on, I think it plays more into the experience level because now I drive these cars more often and on different types of tracks, and I've learned a lot more about them. The problem is, when you go to an oval, everybody is good because they run them every week, so it's harder to stand out. When you come here, some of the stock car guys are not that comfortable with a road course, as compared to guys like me or Robby [Gordon] or other guys that have road course experience. Here, we feel just as comfortable as those guys feel on an oval."
HOW DO YOU VIEW A WEEKEND LIKE THIS FOR YOURSELF...IS THIS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU?
"Absolutely. That's my whole goal. I want to be here full time. It's a great opportunity to come here, run well, open people's eyes and try to get an opportunity to go run the rest of the year with somebody - whether it's Busch or Cup or whatever it is. That's definitely my goal."
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR KEY TO BEING COMPETITIVE SO FAR THIS WEEKEND?
"I think a little bit of everything. The guys have worked really, really hard. We went and tested. I brought some things to the table when I came that I've used here before that have worked. Mike Hillman has been here with a few good road racers, so we collaborated and we've hit it. We just hit a good setup and the car is quick."
YOU SAID YOU RAN A CONSERVATIVE LAP YESTERDAY...AS A RACER, HOW TOUGH WAS THAT?
"It was very tough. But, I've done it the opposite way, too, and made a mistake and then set back in 25th or 30th and said, 'Why didn't you just run a nice, solid lap?' I'm excited with where we're at. Qualifying in the top 15 was our goal when we came here, so we achieved that. Realistically, I thought maybe we could have had a shot at the pole. But, what can you say? You can't think about that all the time. If I would have gone off or spun off, trying to set a pole number, we could have been buried and not as happy as we are today. I'll take what we've got and go after it tomorrow."